EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — An uptick of migrants crossing the border is well underway, including unaccompanied minors. Local organizations assisting with migrant reception said the process so far has been steady with enough space to house those within the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols program (MPP).
As more refugees continue to petition the U.S. for asylum, local shelters housing those under the MPP program, also known as Remain in Mexico, say they are prepared to care for families looking for a better life in the United States.
U.S. Custom and Border Protection officials with the El Paso sector said they’re accommodating the high numbers of unaccompanied minors as well.
“We have a unique moment where a lot of policies are coming together on the grounds here in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez,” said Marisa Limón-Garza, Deputy Director of HOPE Border Institute.
Families seeking refuge in the U.S. fall into three different groups including those under the MPP program, those under Title 42, and the recent group coming from the Brownsville area. Title 42 is a reference to a federal policy mandating an assessment of health risks for border crossers.
“We are kind of the epicenter for some of these needs. So it’s a unique moment for us and we’re interested to see how the Biden administration wants to continue to support these efforts,” said Limón-Garza.
While some families are getting expelled to Mexico on behalf of Title 42, there are still unaccompanied minors crossing by themselves.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the El Paso sector, the daily average encounters for unaccompanied children last month was 337.
A spokesperson with CBP, Roger Maier, sent KTSM 9 News this statement:
“DHS has continued our close coordination with HHS as it increases its capacity to care for unaccompanied minors and place them with sponsors. Our goal is to ensure that CBP has the continued capability to quickly and efficiently transfer unaccompanied minors after they are apprehended to HHS custody, as is required by U.S. law, and as is clearly in the best interest of the children.
Addressing the flow of unaccompanied children crossing our southwest border is an important priority of this Administration and DHS. It requires a whole of government coordinated and sustained response.”
As far as those in MPP, the Deputy Director of HOPE Border Institute said travels through El Paso have been a fairly quick process for most of them.
“Many of them have been in Ciudad Juarez for over a year, going on two years and so have waited earnestly for this day and so like any of us would do, have made their plans and know exactly where they’re going to go, how they’re going to get there, some have same day travel,” Limón-Garza shared, “They may be immediately trying to get to the airport, so people are really not spending a ton of time.”
Limón-Garza said the space for shelter is also prepared with readiness, “There’s plenty of room, safely, COVID safe distancing at the shelters. We’re within the realm of capacity, and it’s not beyond the agreement of what Annunciation House can do.”
HOPE Border Institute says it always welcomes volunteers who are vaccinated to help moving forward with migrant reception.